When considering the people management practices that drive innovation, the facets that spring to mind are, diversity and inclusion, consultation, wellbeing, trust, and engagement; the most important of which is trust.

Before business leaders are willing to place their trust in employees, they often seek assurances that they will get the desired returns. That risk averse approach hinders innovation – which by its very nature means doing something different with no clear vision of the outcome. Innovation and risk go hand in hand. They are the precursor to market leadership and growth and will often provide the edge over competitors.

The pandemic caused a change in basic assumptions about people management, and forced business leaders to adapt to innovative working practices centred on trust, with the adoption of remote and hybrid working. Some organisations embraced this new world and demonstrated the ability to manage any risk by moving toward productivity focused strategies that effectively measured output. This approach has helped them to sustain these new working practices – and the much-reported associated benefits.

It is these productivity focused strategies that are underpinning the greatest innovation in working practices in a generation – the 4-Day week challenge. Predicated on the social exchange theory – employees deliver the same work for the same pay over fewer hours. To date, it has proven to be an overwhelming success with organisations reporting their best financial results to date, as well as improvements in work-life balance, wellbeing, and creativity.

Whether remote, hybrid or the 4-day week – a workplace revolution is underway, and it is dependent on trust. Business leaders must now elevate discussion of their HR practices to the strategic table and develop productivity focused policies, or risk being left behind.